POLL WATCHERS are observers requested by a candidate or political party and approved by the Supervisor of Elections to be at a specified polling location.
F.S.101.131: Each political party and each candidate may have one watcher in each polling room or early voting area at any one time during the election. A political committee formed for the specific purpose of expressly advocating the passage or defeat of an issue on the ballot may have one watcher for each polling room or early voting area at any one time during the election. No watcher shall be permitted to come closer to the officials’ table or the voting booths than is reasonably necessary to properly perform his or her functions, but each shall be allowed within the polling room or early voting area to watch and observe the conduct of electors and officials. The poll watchers shall furnish their own materials and necessities and shall not obstruct the orderly conduct of any election. The poll watchers shall pose any questions regarding polling place procedures directly to the clerk for resolution. They may not interact with voters. Each poll watcher shall be a qualified and registered elector of the county in which he or she serves.
The following guidelines are provided to assist in maintaining orderly conduct of poll watchers at the polling locations.
- Each political party and each candidate on the ballot is permitted to have ONE observer at any one time. Name, address, and date of birth of poll watcher, and location of Early Voting site or polling place to be observed shall be specified on a Designation of Pollwatchers form (DS-DE 125), available on the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections' website at https://dos.myflorida.com/media/696684/dsde125.pdf (English) or https://dos.myflorida.com/media/696697/dsde125_spa.pdf (Spanish) .
- Observers must wear the ID badge provided to them by the Supervisor of Elections while observing.
- Observers CANNOT wear nor have showing any political party or candidate name while on duty at the polling location.
- Park away from the door and if any campaign signs are showing in or on your vehicle, it must be 100 ft. away from polling place door.
- Observers are not permitted to come closer to the precinct registration table, ballot table or any secrecy booth than is necessary to properly perform your duties.
- Observers may stand or sit within a reasonable distance to see or hear voters and staff.
- Observers may look but not handle the Precinct Register or Ballots.
- Observers may not stand too close where the voter feels that he/she is being watched while voting. The secrecy of the ballot selection is legally required.
- Observers are required to furnish your own materials and necessities, and shall not obstruct the orderly conduct of the election.
- Candidates cannot be observers, nor can they enter any polling place except to vote.
- Observers may not interact with voters while in the polling place.
- Observers should direct any questions to the Clerk of the polling place.
- Observers should direct any voter challenges to the Clerk of the polling place.
- NO OBSERVER may “assist” any voter to cast their ballot.
- NO OBSERVER may harass a voter with unwanted solicitations for particular candidates or issues.
- NO OBSERVER may follow or check on voters while the voter is in the booth casting their ballot.
- Newspapers, radios, TV’s or any books, magazines, etc. pertaining to the election are prohibited from being brought into the voting area.
- Cameras or any picture taking in the polling place are prohibited by law.
It is essential that each Precinct Clerk maintain an appropriate level of order at the polling location. If any “observer” becomes unruly or disruptive to the poll workers or the voters, the Clerk has the authority to control the situation and ask any such individual to leave the voting area, and if necessary, be removed from the polling location.
Poll watchers may have their cell phone since they have to check in every so often. Cell phones should be placed on the silent mode and calls should be made or taken outside the voting area. I expect observers to use good, common sense and courtesy just as we expect our poll workers to do. They should keep their voice low and keep any conversation to a minimum.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call the Elections office at 850-482-9652.
Carol A. Dunaway
Supervisor of Elections
NOTE: Two poll watchers for the same candidate or party may not
be in the voting area at any time together. At a shift change, please notify the poll deputy so he/she can notify the poll watcher inside. The poll watcher inside shall gather his/her belonging and exit the voting area before the second poll watcher may enter to serve during his/her specified time. YES, poll watchers may leave and return during
his/her specified working time.